Tony Hudgell has already endured more trauma in his short life than anyone ever should, but you would never know it from talking to him.
The loving, friendly 5-year-old lives in Kent, England, with parents Paula and Mark Hudgell. They adopted him when he was just a baby after he suffered severe abuse at the hands of his biological parents.
When Paula first met Tony, he was riddled with injuries. “At 5 weeks old, he had had all his limbs broken … and he had been left without medical attention for up to 10 days — and by that time, his poor little body had just given up,” she explained.
As a result, he required round-the-clock care, but despite his pain, his sunny personality began to blossom. Within a week of joining his new family he began to smile, and he hasn’t stopped since!
“He became a part of our family, and we fell in love with him instantly,” Paula told GMA.
In 2017, his injuries required the amputation of both his legs, so now he gets around using two prosthetic limbs. His family credits the health care workers at Evelina London Children’s Hospital for saving his life on multiple occasions.
When COVID-19 began, Tony saw a news story about Major Tom Moore, a 100-year-old war veteran who walked laps in his garden to raise over $40 million for the National Health Service. It gave the 5-year-old a wonderful idea!
“Tony kept saying, ‘I can do that, I can walk,'” Paula said. “‘He’s got something just like me, I can walk like that.'”
His mission? To raise money for the same hospital that saved him! So he and his family members began taking walks around their neighborhood. When their community noticed Tony’s efforts, they contributed to his online fundraiser.
Not long after, a much wider audience started pitching in! Everyone from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have thanked Tony for his hard work.
Over the next several weeks, Tony walked about 8 miles — and raised over $1.6 million in the process!
“Our community really rallied behind him,” Paula said. “The last day some of the doctors and nurses who took care of him at the hospital came to cheer for him, all while trying to be careful with social distancing. It was a very emotional day.”
A certain heroic centenarian heard about Tony’s successful campaign as well and reached out to the brave little one.
“Haven’t you done well!” Captain Tom said in a recorded message. His daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, added, “On behalf of Captain Tom and the entire family, we are so impressed by what you’ve done, Tony.”
The staff at Evelina London can’t thank Tony enough for his hard work, calling him “a true inspiration.” The money he raised will fund more research and technology — and help more kids live their best lives. Great job, Tony!
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